West Liberty-Salem rolls NE 42-7, improves to 6-0

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty-Salem improved to 6-0 for the first time since 2019 in dominating fashion.

Senior running back Gabe McGill rushed for 245 yards and five touchdowns as West Liberty-Salem beat defending champion Northeastern 42-7 in the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division opener on Friday night at Tigers Stadium.

“We’ve talked all year long about being tough, being accountable to each other and we have to be disciplined,” said Tigers coach Dan McGill. “I felt like we were tonight. Northeastern is a good football team and they’ve got some good football players. They do things the right way. We just played a really, really good first half of football.”

West Liberty-Salem gained 402 yards of total offense, including 352 rushing yards.

“The offensive line did a great job of staying on blocks,” Dan McGill said. “One of the things I told the guys after the game is that they did a great job this week of studying the scouting report and studying film. We really felt prepared for this week and I think the kids played fast because of that.”

WLS scored on its first possession on a 6-yard TD run by junior Josh Wilcoxon. After a Jets three-and-out, McGill scored on an 11-yard run to make it 14-0.

“We’ve been down 14 points before, but I felt like it happened on plays that maybe we didn’t do something right,” said Jets coach Jake Buchholtz. “To be honest with you, no matter what we did tonight, it wasn’t the right call, it wasn’t the right play. That’s a great team that has three years of energy and building. (Gabe McGill) was an absolute dude tonight. ... I just think their kids were better tonight.”

After an interception by Wilcoxon, McGill scored on a 6-yard run to give WLS a 21-0 first quarter advantage.

Northeastern’s Diezel Taylor scored on a 6-yard run early in the second quarter, but McGill followed with touchdown runs of 62 and 5 yards to give the Tigers a 35-7 lead.

Northeastern drove inside the Tigers 10 to open the second half, but a Tigers interception gave them the ball at their own 4. Two plays later, McGill scampered 96 yards for a touchdown, triggering the running clock.

The Jets had won eight straight OHC North games and went 5-0 in the division last season. Northeastern will look to rebound next week against Triad at Conover Field.

“From the first snap to the last, there was no doubt who the better team was,” Buchholtz said. “We’ll get back into the film, see what mistakes we made as a staff and get some kids back. … It just wasn’t our night tonight.”

Junior Hunter Knotts, sophomore Reese Oder and senior Jacob Griffith also had interceptions for West Liberty-Salem.

The Tigers travel to West Jefferson for a battle of undefeated OHC North division teams next week. The Roughriders beat Mechanicsburg 33-7 to improve to 6-0.

“The OHC North is a battle every single week and we know that,” Dan McGill said. “Our goals this week are to get as healthy as we can and be as prepared as we can. We know West Jeff is a fantastic team. We’re hoping we’ll be very competitive next week.”

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